The latest Email marketing design trends - 2021 (Examples) | W3 Lab

The latest Email marketing design trends – 2021 (Examples)

First of all, what we will all agree with is that the turbulent year is behind us. Many things in our lives have changed, some even irreversibly. The pandemic has changed many rules of the game.

Online shopping and ordering have experienced huge growth. Therefore, email marketing trends have gained even more importance. What new 2021 brings us and what are the main trends in e-mail marketing we will answer in this blog.

Email marketing is an important form of marketing. It is cheaper than most and has a high return on investment (according to the Data & Marketing Association, for every $1 you spend, you can expect an average return of $42).

 It is considered to be the fastest-growing form of communication technology in history with the number of email accounts growing from just 2 million to almost 90 million accounts between 1985 and 2001.

 It is the trend of universal use of email that makes this medium suitable for sales communication between companies and their customers.

Your email marketing campaigns should be professional. It is very important what impression you leave on the audience and what reputation you create for your company.

Consider what goals you want to achieve with each campaign, choose the right tool, and start building a strategy.

99% of consumers check their email every day and millions of emails are opened every day. It is also one of the marketers’ favorite marketing tools, and 59% of them say that email marketing is their biggest source of ROI.

Because of how successful and effective email marketing is, we have decided to write this article and help you with your email marketing design trends in 2021.

Let’s begin.

1. The benefits of email marketing

Before we dive into email creation and composition, let’s look at why email marketing is such an important form of advertising.

email marketing trends
Email marketing | Source

Also, in order to be successful in it, we believe that we should find out what the most important e-mail marketing trends that will be leading this year are.

The first time people hear about it, they usually scoff, because they think that social media marketing is the most superior form, but this isn’t the case.

There are many reasons why email marketing remains one of the most effective marketing forms, the first one being that more than half the population uses email (this was back in 2019, the number only grew since then).

Email marketing is also highly cost-effective, and when compared to social media marketing and traditional marketing, it has the best return on investment or ROI, and for every $1 spent, the average return is $38.

Additionally, not only does a huge number of the population use email, but they also check it every day, and some even do it every few hours. The process of sending emails to them can also be automated, and there are many services out there that make the whole process much easier, so anyone can do it.

These services will also show how many of your emails people open, how many links they click, and other useful stats, which means that you can measure the success of your email marketing strategy.

Email marketing implies the promotion of products and services via email or sending a marketing message to potential customers via e-mail.

This type of electronic communication is direct communication, so this form of marketing is considered direct marketing.

It allows you to build successful relationships with customers, such as sending greeting cards or gift certificates for the customer’s birthday and the like.

In this way, you can increase sales, but also build a sense of consumer loyalty.

Email marketing has several benefits that include:

  •  the most effective online tactic showing the highest return on investment,
  •  much cheaper and faster version than standard mail,
  •  a simple method of promotion,
  •  the ability to analyze feedback on consumer behavior,
  •  the possibility of targeting consumers,
  •  direct address to the consumer as opposed to addressing on social networks,
  •  the high response rate to campaigns and,
  •  the ability to test the performance of different methods and campaigns.

2. How to create emails in 3 steps

Before we dive into the more detailed stuff and email design, it is important that we first go through the process of creating emails for email marketing and the different elements that emails contain.

You can create any email in 3 steps:

  1. Basic email design
  2. Advanced email design – addition of different elements
  3. Revision of the email and improvements

 If your emails are not written well and do not offer any value, what do you think will happen to them?

 It is very likely that they will not be opened either, and what is worse, it is quite certain that they will end up in the trash.

 To avoid this scenario, we have prepared 11 rules for writing sales emails.

The rules for writing sales emails are:

  1. The subject of the email must attract attention.
  2. The content of your e-mail must be of good quality and in accordance with the title.
  3. Customize the content of the text to each user, if possible.
  4. Keep your email short and clear.
  5. Photos and videos make the content more appealing.
  6. Write in a different face and in a friendly tone.
  7. Always emphasize the advantages of the product over the characteristics.
  8. Be pleasant, open, and honest.
  9. End the email with a call to action.
  10. Plan to send your emails.
  11. Optimize email for mobile devices.

1.  Basic email design

Every email has three elements: header, footer and the text in-between.

The header

As the name suggests, the header is the top part of an email. An email header consists of mostly information, such as the sender, the recipient, the subject, the ‘from’ line (so the recipient knows which business the email is from), as well as the subject line and images.

If done properly, the header can greatly increase open rates and conversion rates.

To make a good header, make sure to include all the information and not leave anything out. When it comes to the image, you can use your logo or a picture of the product you’re promoting. The subject line is maybe the most important header element – it is often what convinces people to open your email.

yelp email design - yelp email header design - email marketing trends
The header of a Yelp email

They can draw people in by evoking their curiosity (10 unexpected ways to get more traffic), urging them by telling them your offer is limited (50% off this weekend only), telling them that you can make their life easier (50 tips for better email marketing) and so on. Click here for a great list of email subject lines.

The footer

Unlike the header, the footer is the part of the email located at the bottom.

Design-wise, it is not as important as the header, because the header plays an important role in getting attention and interest, but this doesn’t mean footers are useless. Here, you can include your email address, a phone number your customers can call if they have any questions, a link to your website, and social media links.

haus email footer design
The footer of a Haus email

Additionally, make sure to include a link that will enable the recipient to unsubscribe if they want to. If, for whatever reason, someone wants to unsubscribe from being on your email list, don’t make the process hard on them. Allow them to unsubscribe via a single click.

The text of the email

The text between the header and footer largely depends on the type of email.

There are welcome emails, which welcome the person who just subscribed, post-purchase emails, which you send to your customers after they’ve made a purchase to confirm it, re-engagement emails, which are all about trying to regain the interest of the subscriber, cart abandonment reminder emails that remind subscribers about the items they have in their carts but never purchased and many others.

Let’s look at three great copy examples and what makes them good.

The first line greets you, indicating the type of email that you’re about to read.

The content then tells you what you can expect now that you’ve subscribed – exclusive offers, first access, and recipes.

Additionally, the language is simple and conversational.

litmus promotional email - email design example
Litmus promotional email

This promotional email is short and informative. It highlights all the benefits of the new platform – fast performance and useful features, which are the most important information to the recipient.

The text in this Fitbit happy birthday email is very cheerful, as well as informative. Aside from the nice wishes, it includes a few short and interesting sentences on how other people that are the recipient’s age are doing.

There are two call-to-action buttons – one for tips on how to have a healthy and happy day, and another one for seeing the recipient’s Fitbit stats.

Advanced email design – Addition of different elements

Now that we’ve seen the basic elements that every email should contain, it’s time to look at the elements that are unique to certain emails.

After you come up with your header, footer and the text, you will have to include the other elements that will give the recipient more information and make your email look better.

As there are dozens of email types, we will go through some of the most used ones and the elements of their email design.

Welcome emails

According to research, as many as 96% of webshop visitors are not ready to buy something right away. But these visitors have shown interest in you and your online offer, so they are perfect candidates for continued communication that will encourage them to eventually buy something and become loyal customers.

Once potential customers have opened an account on the website, send them a welcome email with a special offer or a gift card intended only for new subscribers.

Birthday emails

Birthday emails are one of the most common types of transactional emails and can be very successful when sent in the right way.

Create a beautiful birthday email design and offer celebrants a special offer or gift just for their birthday. You can give them a discount on a certain assortment or a gift certificate of a certain value.

Cart abandonment reminder emails

You can send an email immediately after potential customers leave the cart or a few days later.

Namely, leaving the cart does not necessarily mean that potential customers do not want to complete the shopping. Maybe they were distracted and left shopping for later.

 If customers have not responded to the reminder after a few days try to offer them a certain percentage discount if they complete the purchase.

Promotional emails

 These have a list of all the benefits and features of the product you’re showcasing.

Survey emails

 Thank the subscribers for using the business’s products and services and ask them if they would like to participate in a survey, which would make the user experience even better.

Post-purchase emails

These usually include a picture of whatever the customer just purchased, as well as all the important information, such as when they bought the product, how much it cost, shipping information, and so on.

 Also, send an email to customers a few days after delivery of the shipment so they have time to try the product.

Why? Because communication with customers even after the purchase is very important for your online business.

 Ask for customer feedback. You can ask a simple question like “How satisfied are you with the X product so far?” or “Are you satisfied with the speed of delivery?”. Ask customers to leave a review of your services or product quality, as customer opinions and impressions will positively influence future purchasing decisions with other customers.

Cross-sell strategy email

An email in which you offer related products with the purchased product is best sent a few days after the customer has received it. People like to get recommendations for buying products, but only when they see that those recommendations suit their desires.

Reward emails

There are also reward emails, where the most important element is the reward business is giving to the customer to thank them for their loyalty.

If you are not sure how to go about writing the text for your email campaign, there are hundreds of thousands of examples you can find online and draw inspiration from.

3. Revision of the email and improvements   

After you’ve created your basic email design and added the necessary elements to it, take your time reading through it and seeing if any changes need to be made.

We always recommend asking one of your friends or family members for advice to see if they think the email design looks good.

How to increase the email conversion rate?

The effectiveness of email marketing is in its deliverability. You may have followed all the best practices to create the ultimate theme and have the most valuable information for your customers in the body of the email.

But if the email doesn’t get into your customer’s inbox, the time, energy, and money you invest are useless.

When companies send permission-based emails, one in five emails does not get into the inbox.

This means that companies fail to connect with 20% of their customers.

Now that you know why your emails don’t reach your target audience’s inbox, let’s look at ways to resolve the issue:

  • Encourage your customers to mark you as a secure sender
  • Verify the authenticity of the email
  • Buying email lists is always a bad idea

There are a number of tips that you can use in order to increase your email conversion rate. Remember the ‘happy birthday’ email example from earlier?

Being personal in emails is actually preferable, let the recipient know that there is a person behind your brand. If you are asking them a question in the email, you can always encourage them to respond and have a discussion with them.

email marketing trends 2021
Communication with customers is an important part of marketing and brand building | Source

You can also ask them if there is anything they would love to see in the following emails, such as a specific topic.

There’s also storytelling, an important part of marketing. Advertisements that have storytelling as opposed to ads that only promote products are much more memorable and leave a bigger impact.

So, if you’re promoting a product or a service, you can include a story that will get the interest of the recipient.

To increase the conversion rate of your emails, be sure to include a call-to-action button (and make it prominent, too). Additionally, optimize them for mobile, because more than half of global emails are opened on phones.

How to make sure people open your email?

How many emails do you actually read and how many do you put in the trash without even giving them a second glance? Here are some tips to ensure that people don’t do the latter with your emails.

  1.  Never put the core of your email in the title.
    The main mistake that many creators make is to put the core of the whole email in the title. When people see what’s in the mail, in most cases they won’t even open it. So make sure that when you create a mail headline it is teasing, and then, in the email explain to your client what you promised in the headline.
  2. Offer a solution to your customers’ problems.
    Keep in mind that your email is not there to get people to buy something right away or to immediately know what the email is about. The point of the title is to get people to click on the email that will solve their problem and find out more about what you offer when they open it.
  3. We already mentioned subject lines before and how important they are.
    When it comes to people opening your emails, they are absolutely crucial. To make sure the recipient opens your email, you can urge them with an offer, make them curious with information, intrigue them with a question, and so on.
  4. Avoid spam in your subject line.
    About 70% of people usually open their emails over the phone, and on the phone, the only option that appears on the home page is the main, personal box. If your mail ends up in the main inbox, there is a good chance that people will open it. On the other hand, if your mail ends up in spam, very few people will read your mail.
    So avoid expressions like:
    – special offer
    – 50% discount
    – Click here
    – Don’t miss new posts!
    – New items are here!
    – Reduction
  5. Create a balance between useful emails and promotional emails.
    The perfect balance between them is that two of the three emails you send are useful and one is promotional. This way, the customer will be used to useful information through the emails you send them, and then when you send them a promotion, they will be willing to look at it and maybe buy something.
  6. Next up – personalization.
    This might be the most important part of email marketing because the more personalized emails are, the bigger chances there are of people opening them. Don’t refer to your subscriber as ‘dear sir/madam’. Instead, use their name and gain their attention.
    The service you’re using for your email marketing campaign will also pay special attention to what the subscriber looked at on your website and where they are from, so the emails can be personalized even more.
    Some businesses take personalization one step further and send out emails according to the weather. Many delivery services send special offers during bad weather because it makes it really difficult if we want to eat outside. Many of them personalize emails depending on the date, as well (think of Mother’s Day emails).
linkedin personalization email example - personalization email design 2021
An example of a personalized email

3. The importance of email marketing trends

The implementation of the latest e-mail trends in marketing is indisputable.

The growing number of tools and their use, which are emerging as a result of various e-mail marketing trends, does not mean that the company has a better and more successful relationship with the target market.

Therefore, in the mass of current and upcoming trends, it is very important to choose those tools that are appropriate for your business.

It is up to you to make decisions about which trends you just need to ‘follow’ and which you need to implement, as an integral part of an email marketing strategy.

If you want to be successful in business, you should apply modern email marketing trends. The application of the latest trends has a direct impact on competitiveness, and this is the first in a series of advantages of e-mail marketing for a successful business.

Another advantage of applying email marketing trends to marketing is creativity. The variety of marketing tools allows you to create promotional campaigns in a more creative way, including your clients, especially by using social networks and other marketing tools that enable two-way communication.

Building personalized relationships with your target audience is relatively ‘simple’ using email marketing tools. This is the most significant advantage of applying e-mail marketing trends and their impact on the business when building a brand in the market.

4. What is in and what is out in 2021?

If anything brought us to the fact that everything is changing from day to day – it is the coronavirus that marked 2020, and as things stand, the same will be this 2021. Whatever you count on today can change tomorrow.

The same goes for e-mail marketing trends. You need to follow them regularly to stay ahead of the competition.

in or out

At the beginning of 2020, it was considered that e-mail marketing was slowly but surely being forgotten. However, then we were hit by the coronavirus pandemic, and e-marketing came to the throne again.

Today, vendors are sending 27% more messages via email than before the pandemic.

To stay ahead of the competition and succeed in email marketing strategies you need to know the latest e-mail marketing trends for this year.

Let’s talk about email marketing trends that are going strong in 2021. Those are:

  1. Personalization
  2. Automation
  3. User-generated content
  4. Interactive emails
  5. 3D animation
  6. Bold and beautiful style
  7. Dark style
  8. Minimalism
  9. Life as art

Complete personalization

More information is available online than any retailer could collect and process. In contrast, artificial intelligence is able to handle this information with very little effort.

artificial intelligence - typewriter
Artificial intelligence is your assistant in email marketing. | Source

The ultimate goal of any email marketing campaign is to generate higher revenue and higher earnings. During this and the previous year, retailers, in particular, could conclude that the best way to achieve this is through complete personalization.

The use of artificial intelligence makes it easier to provide personalization by collecting more data on potential customers.

Automation

This year has also brought changes when it comes to email marketing trends, which is increasingly moving away from manual campaigns and automation is being used more often. 2021 is definitely a year of change. It is the year of email automation.

Automation refers to a strategy that ensures consistent communication between subscribers and the company.

This gives the customer a sense of control over the inbox. The last thing we want to see in his inbox is a useless email. Based on email marketing automation, the customer gets clear and precise information that he
expects to receive.

Automatic emails enjoy as much as 119% more clicks than broadcast emails!

When it comes to this topic, we should also mention the fact that consumers do not want their mailbox to be overbooked because people are tired of sending irrelevant messages to the trash.

On the other hand, statistics show that welcome emails sent by sellers contribute to their 13% higher earnings. This means that they will miss the opportunity to make money if they stop sending one email. The only solution to permanently solve this problem is to send an email only to those recipients you know are interested.

Email automation, among other things, allows you to effectively resolve conflicts of interest and improve your email marketing.

User-generated content

As many as 82% of consumers claim that user reviews are extremely important to them. Therefore, it is not surprising that 70% of consumers base their decision to buy a product on reviews and ratings.

Interactive emails

Interactive emails are at the very top of the email marketing pyramid. They also increase interaction via e-mail.

One of the interactive elements that will experience its rise this year is the survey that is just being generated by users of services and goods.

Today, about 80% of people check their email via smartphones. For that reason, sellers of their e-mail must adapt to this e-mail marketing trend.

3D animation

In the age of Tik-Tok, Instagram, and other social networks, we prefer interesting visual elements over simple text. Information is easier to spot if it is in a visual format, so it is no surprise that illustration and animation are one of the main trends in the design of the year.

From unusual characters to realism, 3D visual elements are definitely in for 2021. These visual elements cross the line between virtual and real life, making them a great choice for campaigns.

Bold and beautiful style

Many brands go as far as to removing the headers completely and replacing them exclusively with large typography to convey their message. When you use large letters, you can say a lot.

Dark style

Dark style is still in development but there are more and more fans. On the one hand, it’s easier for the reader – less eye strain is always a win – and its clean, minimal lines provide a modern, refreshing look.

Minimalism

More and more companies and brands are starting to present themselves with neutral and muted tones and colors.

The combination of large, bold titles with softer, more relaxed background colors gives importance to the emails. And with this simplicity as well as the help of GIFs, products get highlighted without much effort.

Life as art

Using real-life photos of everyday people instead of models will be another of the leading email designs of 2021. Customers are more likely to connect with a brand if they can connect and identify with what they see, without feeling that the company is just looking for their money.

What is out in 2021

In this section of the article, we will talk about email marketing trends that were unknown and new a couple of years ago, and which today can be considered as outdated. Those are:

  1. Very simple design
  2. Pop-ups for email list growth
  3. Using only Facebook and Twitter to grow the list
  4. Not personalizing emails

Simple design

It should not be mistaken for minimal design. A simple email design emphasizes simple messages. In that way, it reduces the use of complex design elements so that users could open an email from the simplest devices.

Pop-ups

Just a few years ago, one of the leading trends was the increase in pop-up frameworks for list growth. This was definitely one of the most used email marketing trends as companies recorded the growth of their email lists, using pop-up boxes. Try to avoid this.

pop up icon
Avoid pop-ups. | Source

Using only Facebook and Twitter for email list growth

One of the most commonly used e-mail marketing trends was the use of social media to expand the list. People were mainly using Facebook or Twitter, as these were the only well-known social networks. Now there are many more such as Instagram and TikTok. Make use of them too.

Not personalizing your emails

About ten years ago, there was talk about the growth of personalization but it wasn’t carried out to the fullest. Today, personalization, as we said before, is the first and leading email marketing trend that you should take advantage of.

5. Examples of good e-mail marketing design trends for 2021

In this part of the article, we wanted to include good email design examples, including unique and more simple-looking ones, but all really well designed and thought out.

We have mentioned personalization as one of the most important email marketing trends this year. Placing the customers first and showing effort to solve their problem is a trend that will never betray you.

The best example of personalization as a trend is an email from Jack Wills. It is clear that the newsletter is great. In their email, you can see a reminder that postage is free, a message to the customer with the name on top, items left in the basket as well as the purchase history where you can clearly see what it is that the customer prefers.

All these seemingly small details make a huge difference. They connect directly with the customers and give them importance and value. Personalization helps this newsletter to regain customers, and thus regain lost revenue.

email marketing trends - newsletter email - jack wills
Email from Jack Wills


We have talked about different types of emails such as birthday emails, welcome emails, promotional emails, and so on. However, the list does not stop there.

The pandemic has done its thing and forced global brands to create other types of emails as a thank you to customers. The best example of this email marketing trend is McDonald’s email, whose team uses Covid as an excuse to send additional emails throughout the year.

This brand policy additionally wins the hearts of its users because it gives importance to the community in these difficult and changed conditions, and the option that enables sharing certainly brings extraordinary results to this brand. With this e-mail, McDonald’s thanks NHS workers and advertises their free lunches.

email from mcdonalds - thank you email
Email from McDonald’s


As we have already said, the dark style will be one of the dominant e-mail marketing design trends this year. The best example is the Uber newsletter. As you can see, a dark mode and two different tabs are dominant to help the newsletter customize all the information and make reading easier.

Since users spend much more time looking at the phone due to a pandemic, the dark mode helps them to “rest” their eyes in some way. It also plays nicely with the blue tone used for accents.

uber email - dark style email
Email from Uber


One of the leading email marketing trends this year will be 3D animation. The best example of this trend is Tinder’s e-mail, where you can see an animated gif with several running illustrations. Each of these animations explains the steps you should take. With this, you will clarify all doubts to customers and create a friendly atmosphere, which creates good relationships between the brand and customers.

Using real-life images is also one of the leading trends in email marketing design. The best example of this design is the Welly e-mail, where the picture invites all nature and adventure lovers to action. Since we are living a year colored by the Covid virus pandemic, a lot has changed and a lot has been denied to us but there are still many ways to embark on an adventure and enjoy it.

Welly’s email contains a picture with a beautiful landscape in which the woman who enjoys stands out in the foreground. Only one person, but that is exactly what attracts us and what we identify with because we are all in the same position. It is difficult to resist this beautiful landscape, whether you are a nature lover or not. Because nature has become the only safe escape from the uncertain times of the last two years.

welly's email - real life images in email marketing design
Email from Welly

As a conclusion to all that has been written, one thing stands out – the pandemic has changed not only our way of life but also the leading trends.

Follow these email marketing trends as well as design trends and provide yourself and your brand with a secure income even in these uncertain times.

6. Plain text emails

Plain text emails are unlike all email examples we provided, and we wanted to include them for that exact reason.

They don’t really have a design – as the name suggests, they are plain and only contain text, with no fancy images and graphics. The reason we’re including them here is that some email marketers prefer them over other email types and think that their simplicity is the way to go.

Here’s an example of one:

plain text email
Source

As you can see, it is very simple. No images, no fancy header and footer, and no clickable links. The reason for the links not being clickable is the fact that it is a plain text email. Emails that look as simple and have clickable links are HTML emails. Many marketers use a combination of both, to achieve both clickable links and simplicity.

The pros and cons of plain text emails

Firstly and maybe most importantly, plain text emails have a simple appearance, which is preferred by some people.

They also appear personal and direct, and there are no elements that distract the recipient. They also possess universal readability and can be read on any device without any formatting problems.

They have higher deliverability because plain text e-mails usually do not trigger spam filters, so e-mail providers allow them to reach the user’s mail directly.

They also have fewer technical issues so they load quickly because there is not much to load other than text.

These emails have higher openings and clicks because they are more deliverable, they generate 42% more clicks. They are more personal because they create a more intimate, friendly atmosphere.

When it comes to cons, they have no visual appeal, which immediately takes away any chance at uniqueness and attention-grabbing. Because they cannot contain images and videos, they lose out on the benefits of these two elements.

Additionally, they don’t contain clickable links, so the recipient cannot access one of your links immediately and will have to do it themselves.

 Plain-text emails do not favor brand promotion because they do not allow companies to nurture their brand recognition with subscribers, as they contain only text.

 Many companies include so-called hybrid email in their marketing campaigns, which are HTML messages with minimal formatting and mimic plain text email.  They look personal and handwritten but retain the ability to track HTML.

Since you can’t create stylistic visual elements, you also can’t highlight your call to action(CTA), so this is one of the disadvantages of these emails.

Wrapping up

Email marketing remains one of the most popular and successful marketing forms. The fact you can make an email campaign on your own with the help of a single service makes it especially appealing, but don’t forget about the important elements of every email.

The speed and reliability of information make it the most common method of communication. More than 40% of people in the world use e-mail. It is believed that the use of e-mail will become even more popular.

The commitment to email marketing trends has proven to be suitable for all businesses, whether you are a small or large business because online marketing presentations are affordable and cheap.

 It is an easy way to connect with customers, as well as the most effective way to advertise your site.

Marketing via e-mail, and thus new e-mail marketing trends, have shown their value over the past year, and as things stand, it will be the same this 2021, the year of the pandemic.

Successful business on the market means timely adjustment of the company’s marketing strategy in accordance with current e-mail marketing trends.

Good luck building your campaign and thank you for reading!

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